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Neutered California tax board forces quick transition

July 4, 2017

By Jonathan J. Cooper, Associated Press : sfchronicle – excerpt

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Off and on for nearly a century, California lawmakers pondered breaking up an obscure elected board that now collects a third of the state’s revenue — more than $60 billion a year in sales, alcohol, tobacco and other taxes.

They pulled the trigger last month, with Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators backing a plan to strip nearly all power from the Board of Equalization. The move took effect Saturday, less than three weeks after legislation was introduced, forcing Brown’s administration to scramble to create a new agency to oversee tax collections and audits in a matter of weeks.

In six months, an even bigger change takes effect when another new department, the Office of Tax Appeals, will assume the authority to resolve most disputed tax bills. Panels of administrative law judges stationed around the state will hear and decide appeals in place of the elected Board of Equalization members.

The rapid transition creates a period of uncertainty for the taxpayers that deal with the Board of Equalization, which will retain about 200 of its 4,700 staff positions. The board mostly handled taxes paid by businesses but also adjudicated income tax appeals…

George Runner, a Republican Board of Equalization member who opposed the change, said the new law will leave small-business owners and taxpayers to navigate an oppressive bureaucracy on their own.

“When the Legislature does these kinds of things without thinking through consequence, there’s unintended issues,” Runner said… (more)

One more change without much notice or discussion with no public involvement. Comment at the source if you can. Otherwise send your statements and opinions to the governor and state representatives. Some contacts are listed here:


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